New Jersey Tea
Origin: Cumberland County, New Jersey
Improvement status: Cultivated wild material
Seeds per packet: ~45
BOTANICAL SAMPLE - NOT GERMINATION TESTED
Life cycle: Perennial
New Jersey Tea is a native perennial shrub with pretty white pom-pom-like flowers and green leaves with a wintergreen-like flavor when fresh. During the American Revolution, when it was politically incorrect to drink imported tea, American patriots took to drinking tea made from the leaves of this plant. It is said to be stimulating, though caffeine-free. Indigenous people have long used the root bark and roots medicinally, mainly to treat upper respiratory infections. Herbalists today use it for problems of the lymphatic system. It is a pretty plant, and its flowers attract a wide range of pollinators (as you can see in the blurry photo). It thrives in sunny or at least partially sunny locations, growing to about 3 feet tall. Our seeds come from plants grown at the EFN flagship farm in Elmer, NJ, from nursery stock we bought from Akerboom Nursery in Cedarville, NJ (who told us they collected their original seeds locally).
GROWING TIPS: We have yet to try growing these from seed, so we don't know the best way to do so, and because we haven't germination tested these, we are offering them as "botanical samples." According to our research, seeds are likely to benefit from at least 30-60 days cold stratification, followed by surface sowing (because they need light to germinate) in a moist medium kept moist until sprouting. They might take a few months to sprout. The best way to do it is probably to plant a number of seeds toward the end of summer in a place where you want the plants to grow. They'll get stratified by winter and hopefully sprout the next spring.